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SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING

How can you make something out of nothing?

I'm not sure about the answer to that, but I do know to make nothing out of something. Well, I don't know how to, but Elizabeth Coblentz does. I had been a regular visitor at the Coblentz farmstead for a couple of years before the term "nothings" seeped into their conversation. That's because "nothings" are reserved for one special occasion: the Amish wedding. Elizabeth talked about making "nothings" for her daughter Liz's wedding.

"Elizabeth, you can't make nothing, you're going to have a 1000 people show up for dinner."

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, and explained to me that "nothings" are a traditional wedding pastry in their community. The crispy pastry - resembling a funnel cake - is classic Pennsylvania Dutch fare: simple, yet elegant. The pastries are round and concave and sprinkled sometimes with powdered sugar. They are stacked on the wedding tables (tables adorned with the wedding cake) so the pastry is not only edible but also does double-duty as a decoration. No Amish wedding in Indiana would be complete without the batches of nothings.

By the way, I am not sure how these desserts got the name "nothings", and neither is Elizabeth, she just say that's what they've always called them. In other Amish communities these same pastries are referred to as "knee patches", so the origins of this differently-named dessert are a mystery to me. Stay tuned to this site, I'll try to post a photo of "nothings" in the near future.

NOTHINGS

1 egg
3 cookspoons (big kitchen-spoons) of cream
pinch of salt
all-purpose flour as needed
vegetable shortening or lard for deep-frying
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat the egg and stir in cream, salt, and enough flour to make a stiff dough. Divide into six or seven balls and roll each dough ball flat - very thin. Cut three slits, 2 inches long, in each piece.

Have a kettle of hot lard or Crisco ready. Put one piece at a time into the kettle. Turn over with two forks when you see a slight golden color. Take out and put on a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Then put on another plate and sprinkle with sugar. Stack all nothings on one plate.

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures